I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I guess what you never really expect is that you never forget. Over the past week, I have been going back and rereading some of the stories that I wrote during those dark days of online dating when I was depressed and used women as a distraction. While I might not recall some of the names and the faces, the lessons were never lost. A sad consolation prize, I suppose. Having lied, cheated, and used so many good women along the way isn’t an easy thing to live with. Oh sure, some of them probably moved on to a new person just as quickly as I did and I am positive there are plenty of women who wouldn’t even recognize me if we walked past each other at a street fair – I know because it’s happened. I mean, you can’t date hundreds of women with similar taste and expect not to run into them somewhere along the line. But I guess I just want to try and be as emotionally prepared for those occasions as possible.
Guilt is a heavy burden to live with. Guilt is one of the cancers of emotional progress and at some point, you have to learn to come to terms with what you have inflicted upon, or robbed from someone and learn to feel okay with yourself. That you served your penance and that you have allowed yourself to move forward for not only the betterment of yourself, but for those around you.
I spent years apologizing to people. Some women whose names I never knew. Even sending out emails and texts when I couldn’t find someone face to face. Long winded confessions and explanations to women that I felt I have wronged along my journey. Most accepted it gracefully. Some didn’t even recall who I was. Some told me to not apologize because I didn’t do anything wrong. And some who told me that I was a “piece of shit” and to never contact them again. Kind of like steps 8 and 9 of those in recovery programs, the apologies were just as much about me saying the words that I needed to say as they were what the people I have wronged needed to hear.
So when I go back and read excerpts from 4AM Friends, it’s tough because it brings back the weight of that guilt. Of how helpless and out of control I felt. People like to believe sexual addiction is not real. That it is a made-up disease by people looking for a convenient excuse to not take responsibility for their actions. But the reason why it is so misunderstood is because so many people believe that it is something as simple as not putting your penis into another person. That is not it. Sex is simply the effect of the cause. Because like most addictions, it is about control. Even when you’re controlling being out of control, it is your “choice”. It is about the chase and the capture. It is about the cunning tactics and the thrill of getting caught. It is about adrenaline and lust and excitement. It is about adventure and spontaneity and elation and all the other elements that make going back and finding new women that much more alluring. But what we tend to forget, gloss over, or glamorize are the morning afters. The emotional hangovers and the lonely waiting room while getting tested for STDs. We forget that soul-sucking hollow feeling of being alone while lying next to a stranger.
The pull and lure will always be there. The only difference is, I have been punched enough times in the heart to know how to dodge or brace for impact. Because I learned the lesson that came from years of burning guilt weighing on the back of my head as an ever-present reminder to do what is best for not only me, but for those around me.
I know some of you from that period in my life are reading this right now and you know that I am far from fixed. I will always be the first to admit this and I will not attempt to bullshit anyone. But the difference now is that I’m trying. I’m trying really hard to be a better me.
And that is all because of you.